OH dear, Lisa. Oh dear, oh dear. Citing Catalonia as a good example of how to beat “divisive nationalism”? If you wanted to get noticed in Scotland, Ms Nandy, then job done.

I do feel a bit for the Labour leadership hopeful. She’s no hardliner and overall, she came across well during her half-hour interview with inquisitor-in-chief Andrew Neil.

The 40-year-old backbencher was calm, serious, across much of the detail and able to point to a record of thinking for herself (on Brexit, for instance). She was less ideological than Rebecca Long-Bailey, and more shiny and new than Keir Starmer or Jess Phillips.

The politician of whom she was most reminiscent was Nicola Sturgeon – she has the same calm, polite but firm manner and gave the same impression of having at her disposal an intellectual armoury with which to parry each thrust. Except, that is, on Scotland.

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Mr Neil asked about her plan to set up an international commission for the Scottish people that would aim to learn from examples in modern history where “the cause of social justice has beaten divisive nationalism”. What are you talking about, he asked, articulating what the rest of us were thinking.

There was nothing wrong, answered Ms Nandy, with “looking outwards to other parts of the world where they have had to deal with divisive nationalism and seek to discover the lessons from when, in these brief moments in history, in places like Catalonia and Quebec, we have managed to beat divisive nationalism”.

You really have to feel for those Scottish Labour supporters who, until that point, must have felt the stirrings of hope in their hearts. Catalonia, where the Spanish government used riot police to quell pro-independence demonstrators? Catalonia, where politicians have been imprisoned or fled into exile? Was she serious?

No politician in Scotland of any stripe would risk being seen to defend the Spanish government over its handling of the Catalan referendum. We do things differently here, is the grateful feeling we all have, regardless of our position on independence.

To casually throw Catalonia into the mix as an example of how “Scotland” might beat “divisive nationalism”, suggests a profound unwariness about such a sensitive issue. Unsurprisingly, the comment unleashed a force nine gale of nationalist condemnation.

So how did such an intelligent politician manage to sound so hopelessly off-key about Scotland?

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The likelihood is that, like so many UK politicians, she just doesn’t fully understand the Scottish political debate.

Admittedly, it’s easy to forget that we are obsessed with questions of nationalism and national identity here in Scotland to an extent that others in the UK are not – even political leaders. Ms Sturgeon alluded to this in the Holyrood chamber yesterday, when she said she was going to give Ms Nandy the benefit of the doubt and assume she hadn’t paid attention to events in Catalonia.

But Ms Sturgeon could afford to be generous. The Labour leadership hopeful had demonstrated her outsider status to Scottish voters all by herself.

Ms Nandy did clarify her comments the following day, condemning the Spanish police’s “unjustified violence”, and implying that it was Catalonia’s peaceable socialists she wanted to learn from, with their efforts “resisting the advance of separatists”.

No surprise here – she never did seem like the baton-wielding type.

But the sense of her lack of empathy with the Scottish debate remained, heightened by persisting with the message that the SNP represents a form of “divisive nationalism” that is at odds with social justice.

You can see what she is trying to do – attempting to discredit the political juggernaut that is the SNP, a juggernaut that has flattened Labour’s once-proud strongholds in Scotland, by implying that all nationalism is inherently nativist and right-wing. Jo Swinson did the same thing, much good it did her.

But does she not realise that in Scotland, that debate seems so terribly tired and dated? In Scotland, only the most closed-minded of pro-UK supporters believes the SNP-led independence movement, which advocates more immigration, a more generous welfare state and more progressive taxation, can be regarded as inimical to social justice just because it is nationalist.

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Ms Nandy has impressed as a leadership contender partly because she has sought to understand disaffected northern Leave voters, advocating that they should be treated with respect, yet she brands those with pro-independence sympathies as “divisive nationalists” and favours shutting down the independence question even, it sounded, if the SNP wins a Holyrood majority in 2021.

Again, it shows a tone deaf approach to Scotland, which is a long-standing problem among UK Labour figures.

Should we be understanding about that? After all, Labour leadership candidates have a great many things to get to grips with and can’t spend their lives reading Ms Sturgeon’s Twitter feed.

And there is no easy answer for Labour over the independence question. Yes, Labour has lost many voters to the SNP and faced criticism for opposing independence, but at the same time, there is a long and honourable tradition on the left of opposing nationalist movements in favour of internationalism. Those beliefs too are profoundly important to many voters and activists.

They could try and steer a middle course, but no one thinks that would work, given that lack of clarity on constitutional issues has been blamed for the party’s poor showing in recent elections.

But Labour does need to find a workable position on Scotland. It needs Scottish MPs to win a future Commons majority and if the party gets this question wrong, the break-up of the UK could follow. The problem is that any position that chimes with the Conservatives’ increasingly indefensible line, is profoundly dangerous for them.

The Scottish people, even now, are refusing to jump on the SNP bandwagon where independence is concerned, but the question of a second independence referendum – now that’s different. That is a question of self-determination. If Boris Johnson continues to refuse Scotland the right to choose – even, crucially, if the SNP win a majority of votes in Holyrood in 2021 – then that risks irritating even Scots who oppose independence. If Labour have signed up to the same position, they will be in trouble.

So there is no easy answer for Scottish Labour, but plenty of pitfalls, and unwary leadership candidates who wade into debates they don’t fully understand only make it harder.